Steven Telck’s final thoughts about his European trike adventure!
(see prior Trike Asylum recent posts to read Steven’s journals)
Three people have written asking if I am back from Europe or if I had chosen to stay. I guess that means more people than I thought might have been reading my emails. I have been back again in Wyoming now for a few weeks. Sorry for the delay in the last message. I have been busy putting my trike back together when I got back to Wyoming and teaching a flute class in South Dakota and it slipped my mind that I should send out a last letter. o here is the last letter with my opinions, thoughts and reminiscences of my trip.
First thing I had to do when I arrived home was find my trike. Yes the airlines lost it somewhere between Denver, Colorado and Casper, Wyoming. Finally after two days it showed up at the house. I was hoping it had been lost as this was the first time I ever insured it for a trip and I could have gotten a new one if the airlines had permanently misplaced my trike. Well the old girl and I are still together so the romance continues between us.
This trip was rough on the trike. I had trouble with the boom constantly pivoting in the frame housing and that has been fixed with “fiber grip”, a rear tire blew out in Germany, idler bearings gave up the ghost on a Sunday in a part of France with no bicycle shops, a bent derailleur hanger caused shifting problems and a constant creak in the front end for the last three weeks of the tour was very distracting. The front middle chain ring is worn out and it and the chain needs to be replaced. At this time the bottom bracket now 10 years old is getting new bearings as they feel like gravel in a pipe instead of bearings.
As a quick refresh of some thing written about previously.
I had a great time visiting England and ICE recumbent trike company. I have been dealing with ICE for ten years via email where they help me with technical problems, make suggestions on best practice and just generally helping me keep my trike working well. They have been more than great in dealing with warranty issues and their products are evolving to suit a new market with their addition of electric assistance trikes. It is just possible I might be looking into that option in a few years, but I want to resist making that move for as long as possible. Any one who might be thinking of purchasing a recumbent trike would be well served to purchase an ICE recumbent.
I remember the kindness of a 13 year old German boy named Sedrick who brought me warm tea when he understood I was fighting a strong chill. He went home in the rain and returned with a thermos of tea. The next day as I was going into the village to get breakfast when I met him coming down to see me with croissants. He is fatherless having lost his father at the age of 10 to some sort of lung cancer. He said his mother never remarried and did not have a boy friend. It seemed like he was happy talking to me and maybe I was for a short time a father figure.
I remember the late lunch in a small French town as a local restaurant where I was scarfing down lunch like there was no tomorrow. At the end of the lunch a cheese platter was brought out as the French commonly have cheese as desert. This platter had about 10 lbs of cheese on it and as the waitress set it down she look at me and said “Please don’t eat all”. I guess the comment was appropriate as I was not interested in a slow two lunch and I was wolfing down lunch as fast as they could bring it to me. I was just filling the hunger I was feeling that after noon not having eaten the night before, nor breakfast as my camp the night before was far from any town. After this little episode I made sure to have some cheese and salami in the bags at all time during the ride.
I watched a cooling tower of a nuclear power plant in Germany which never came online after it was found to have been accidentally built on a fault line be demolished. I sat for nearly 3 hours waiting for the tower to fall only to be caught with my camera shut down when it finally fell.
Near the end of the trip I went up to a local mountain to watch paragliders and it was amazing to watch people run off a mountain with nothing more than a harness and a sail to fly along the cliff faces quietly and gracefully down into a valley below.
I must admit during the whole trip I meet many good people in all the countries I visited. Riding in the Netherlands was a pleasure were every driver allows a bicyclist to share the road and ride safely and there are so many bicycle paths. I found this to be true in all the countries I visited, but must admit the Germans are a bit more aggressive in their driving, yet I never felt at risk in Germany. It was in Germany where a young man really helped me out when my rear tire on my trike blew out on a narrow road with little in the way of a safety margin to repair a tire and which I had no way to fix not carrying a spare tire. After driving me 10 km to a bicycle shop he would not take one Euro for gas.
If any of the readers of this document think or believe the French of being unfriendly they are extremely misinformed. I believe this to be an urban myth from years ago started by people who were not friendly themselves when first meeting French people. I have been to France now twice and both times I met openly friendly people. It is amazing how people will go out of their way to help you when you approach them with a little grace, such as quietly explaining you don’t speak their language and asking politely if they can help you.
I fondly remember all the encouragement offered to me as I climbed Oberalppass and Fukra pass. I was struggling to keep a decent pace and make the summit when younger men and women would come by on light weight upright bikes and shout at me “Brave sir”, “respect”, “You are nearly there, only 2 km to the summit”. These two peaks for me with my load were a challenge and more than once I was considering getting off and pushing the trike, but friendly people kept my spirits up and I climbed over the summits with a great sense of accomplishment.
I remember funny people like the two Germans who made the comment about Switzerland when they said “It is a rich country everyone owns a cow” which means all Swiss have more than enough money or the Swiss man who said that the Swiss Air Force only works from 8am to 12am and 2pm to 6pm, so if the country is attacked outside of those hours they must call Italy for assistance meaning no one in Switzerland works too hard.
I am not sure what “Woodstock” meant to Europeans, but many people my age asked me if I had attended the event. If I had I would have been 17 years old and I was still in high school in Jackson Hole at the time. From what little I know of Woodstock it was an event with lots of music, drugs, few toilets and little in the way of food for the people who attended. I personally think it has been made into an unrealistic American iconic dream which has filtered out to the world culture without being carefully examined. I guess one has to ask themselves what was more important to the people attending the event. Was it the music, the free thinking atmospheres or just the social interactions which took place? The recent attempt to have a 50 year anniversary clearly shows that people today are first and foremost focused on the money which might be made from such events. The world has evolved into a litigious society where nothing can be done without lawyers being involved. No city or even small business can accept the possible financial loss which might occur where people might sue over problems no one would have given a second though to 50 years ago, so I was not surprised to hear that the 50th anniversary flopped as there was not enough money to be made and too many regulations and rules to be addressed. For those that attended Woodstock 50 some years ago I believe money and comfort was the last things on their minds. I am from a generation where the concept of “Glamping” makes no sense to me and therefore I guess I might have enjoyed attending Woodstock if I had gone.
What would I have done different now that I have the luxury of looking back? Well some sort of ultra-lite camp chair would have been nice as sitting on the ground especially wet ground during my 50 days of travel was not fun. Better rain gear for Belgium and the Netherlands would have been in order. In Europe they use something called a rain cape. It has no zipper or a very short one in the front which means it will keep a recumbent rider much drier in the recumbent position. It is sort of a poncho made for bicycling. If I had brought along such a cape, I might not have gotten so cold in Germany, but then again I would not have met Sedric. I would have taken less cash as I found it hard to exchange anywhere other than Switzerland. I would take flip flops in the future rather than crocs, as crocs are much harder to pack and take up a lot of room in my panniers. A bathing suit which I forgot would have been nice for swimming at camp ground pools. A much smaller lock and chain. A 10.8 lb chain and lock was a bit much to push up the mountains of Switzerland.
I had a great time and highly recommend that people should see Europe and try to experience the culture. Moving from country to country is free and easy. The Euro makes currency easier. Keep in mind that England and Switzerland don’t use the Euro. I can honestly say I have been in both Germany and France at least 25 times as I crossed over the Rhine river daily to camp, eat or find a better bike path.
All the pictures and short videos I took are at this link on my Google Drive. If is unfortunate, but many people tell me they have trouble streaming videos stored on my G Drive. Many of my readers have told me they can not access any video and I also can not play a video from my G Drive other than through Internet Explorer. With Chrome it just doesn’t seem to work. If you down load the video it plays on a local computer, but I understand not everyone wants my unprofessional videos cluttering up their computer. If any one is interested in looking at my pictures I will leave the link active for a time.
If my legs continue to hold up I am giving thought to riding the north island of New Zealand in the next few years. Like the European trip it would be totally self supported.